Axiom Space is a space infrastructure developer and crew mission manager headquartered in Houston, Texas. The company aims to own and operate the world's first commercial space station by 2024. Axiom signed a deal with SpaceX to launch four crewed missions to the International Space Station (ISS). Axiom's first crewed mission, AX-1, was launched by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on April 8, 2022. A crew of four were transported to the ISS aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft for a 10-day trip. AX-1 passengers Larry Connor of the United States, Eytan Stibbe of Israel, and Mark Pathy of Canada, who were led by former NASA astronaut Michael López-Alegría, made history as the first fully-commercial crew to visit the Space Station.
On August 31, NASA announced it signed a deal with Axiom Space for a second all-private mission to the Space Station that will be launched by SpaceX during the second quarter of 2023. The spaceflight is designated as Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2). A Falcon 9 rocket will launch a crew of four from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a Crew Dragon to the orbiting outpost. Axiom has not revealed who the crewmembers of AX-2 are. The company has an interesting client list that includes Hollywood actor Tom Cruise, who is scheduled to launch to the Space Station sometime in 2024 to film a movie in outer space. Axiom will submit four proposed AX-2 crewmembers and four back-up crew to the ISS Multilateral Crew Operations Panel for review. NASA requires all private astronaut mission providers to select a previously flown NASA astronaut as the spacecraft commander to fly with a civilian crew. We will soon find out who the Ax-2 crew members are, they will train for their spaceflight starting this Fall with NASA and SpaceX.
“With each new step forward, we are working together with commercial space companies and growing the economy in low-Earth orbit,” said Phil McAlister, director of commercial space at NASA Headquarters. “In addition to expanding access to orbit for more people, we are also hoping these private astronaut missions will help the industry learn and develop the skillset to conduct such missions, and NASA is benefitting from gaining additional capability, particularly with returning additional cargo from the space station.”
"Axiom Space’s Ax-2 mission builds upon the success of Ax-1, which demonstrated our team’s ability to work collaboratively with our partners at NASA and SpaceX to plan and execute a complex human spaceflight mission,” said Derek Hassmann, Axiom’s chief of Mission Integration and Operations. “Axiom continues to fund and fly private astronaut missions to the International Space Station to build our expertise and attract new customers in preparation for the launch of our space station, Axiom Station. Our new Ax-2 crew, together with a full mission manifest of science, outreach, and commercial activities, will continue to increase utilization of the International Space Station National Laboratory and demonstrate to the world the benefits of commercial space missions for all humanity.”
As part of the NASA and Axiom AX-2 contract, the agency will launch science cargo aboard Crew Dragon that must be kept in ultra cold conditions in transit back to Earth. The cargo they will return includes: a Nitrogen/Oxygen Recharge System (NORS) tank and two cargo transfer bags, if needed. The contract also states the appointed AX-2 commander will have to work 10 hours at ISS to complete NASA science or perform important tasks for the agency.
Featured Image Source: NASA
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.